A crammed centenary calendar and one of the biggest club memberships in North Yorkshire has Malton & Norton Golf Club professional Michael Brooks glowing as he tells TONY KELLY.

GOLF is simply not just in the blood of Michael Brooks – it positively courses through the veins of the Malton & Norton Golf Club professional, like the burn that criss-crosses St Andrews, the spiritual home of the game.

There can be no-one who was born to play golf more.

The 38-year-old was barely of school age when he was up and swinging. He cannot recall the very first time he took up a club, but he remembers it was as a toddler, when he would play at Lanark GC to where his father, esteemed Scottish and European Tour pro Andrew Brooks, was attached.

Said the Malton & Norton pro of his dad: “He was a class player, who was on the European Tour for 11 to 12 years. He also played in half a dozen Open Championships.”

Besides his dad, who is still a pro at Royal St George’s, his uncle Alec was a goalkeeper on the books of Glasgow Rangers, so there was a sporting link threading through the Brooks clan, whose other claim to fame was to be part of a furniture and furnishings dynasty, which today remains the second oldest family business in Scotland.

Golf though was the younger Brooks’ abiding passion, following that of his dad, who was a member of the then burgeoning European Tour with contemporaries including British legends, Peter Alliss and Tommy Horton.

Given that sort of pedigree, it was not surprising that fairways and greens should be the sporting turf on which the youngster was to thrive.

Recounted the Carluke-born Brooks: “I’d go up there (Lanark GC) and practice on the nine-hole pitch and putt and I’d go round say ten times a day while my father would be doing his pro stuff, “That’s how I got into the game and I got good at it very quickly.”

So rapid was Brooks’ progress he advanced to district and county teams before gaining national schoolboys honours at the age of 17 with his homeland in the European Team Championships in Sweden, where the Scots finished fifth.

Brooks then took a brief hiatus from the sport, admitting his game somehow “plateau’d out” for three years. However, after his break, Brooks’ return coincided with it clicking back into a successful groove.

He won the Scottish amateur championship in Dunbar in 1996. That same year Brooks was also crowned the Scotland Champion of Champions in a tournament at Leven. “It was a good year for me, that year. I was on fire,” he enthused.

His upswing in form, a patch as richly purple as summer heather, yielded a place in the Great Britain squad playing for GB and Ireland in the prestigious Eisenhower Trophy, the biennial world amateur men’s team championship.

The 1996 event was held in Manila in the Philippines. “That was a superb experience,” said Brooks, who also remembered “spanking” current world number 14 Sergio Garcia in a match while representing Scotland against Spain in the European men’s team championships.

The pinnacle of his illustrious amateur days was to be picked for the GB and Ireland Walker Cup team to play their American counterparts at the Quaker Range club in New York.

Defeat for the visitors was emphatic, but Brooks thoroughly revelled in the experience of an event in which he matched his dad’s feat of appearing in the Walker Cup.

To this day the father and son remain one of just three father and sons from Great Britain and Ireland to have played in the world’s leading amateur team golf tournament.

Brooks opted to turn professional in 1998 giving himself two years to try to gain his full Euro Tour card after initially starting on the then MasterCard Tour, currently the EuroPro Tour.

He admitted to loving the “hard slog”. But, after playing well but not seeing enough financial return to justify the life, he opted to become a club pro working first at Royal St Georges, where his father was the head professional.

After several years there Brooks moved to Castletown in the Isle of Man, where he stayed for just over two years – “it was just so quiet” – before last year applying for the Malton and Norton post.

“It was the first time I had set foot in Yorkshire,” he said. Brooks explained he thought he had previously played at Ganton GC as a youngster, but when he actually appeared there last year, he realised it was his first time at the world-famous links course.

Settling in Yorkshire, and at Malton & Norton GC in particular, has been a dream appointment for the softly-spoken Brooks.

“There’s such a difference between the Isle of Man and here. I wanted a far busier club and I have not been disappointed,” declared Brooks.

“It’s a very forward-looking club and the support I have had has been first-class. They could not have done more to help me to settle in,” said the pro, adding how he and his fiancée Joanne had recently moved to a new house barely five minutes from the Welham Park-based club.

“We have 900 members here. It’s a 27-hole course with a great driving range and fine short-game facilities and this year the club is celebrating its centenary. It couldn’t be better.”

For Brooks inter-action with all the club’s various sections – men’s, women’s juniors – is key to the philosophy that drives him on.

“My job is to see that I can get across to as many of the members as possible that what we are trying to do is make sure they can enjoy their golf,” he said.

“You have to have the correct product, which I think we do at Malton & Norton.

“Membership is up on last year but that means you cannot take it easy. A club has to remain progressive and this is a forward-looking club.”